Interview: Carey Sharpe Talks about the Inspiration Behind the Writing of BLOOD/LOVE at Joe's Pub

The new vampire rock opera played two sold-out shows at Joe's Pub on January 15th.

By: Jan. 24, 2024
Interview: Carey Sharpe Talks about the Inspiration Behind the Writing of BLOOD/LOVE at Joe's Pub
Photo Credit: Graham Washatka
Photo Credit: Graham Washatka

If you’re a fan of vampires (and who isn’t?), you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Blood/Love, a new poppy rock opera that speaks as much to human nature as it does to the sultry glamorous lives of the undead. The show just mounted a concert production in New York City, which played two sold-out shows at Joe’s Pub on January 15th, 2024. I spoke to Carey Sharpe, one of the creators and stars of the show, about some of the inspiration behind writing it, next steps, and where curious audiences can get a taste of the project in the meantime.

RK: Can you tell me a bit about the show?
CS: We had written a 90-minute vampire musical rock opera; the music is heavily influenced by the pop and rock genres. And I worked on the music with people who are not typically in the musical theater world, so it definitely has a very different sound than most Broadway type shows. But we did it very intentionally because we were trying to create something a little bit outside of the normal musical theater thing, but still something that’s a full stage production with a story. It's very music forward, so there's not a ton of dialog. There is some, but it mainly is music. We've got 25 original songs in the show, so it is definitely music heavy.

RK: How did the show go this week?
CS: It was wonderful! We were at Joe's Pub, which is an awesome space, but just a little too small for us to do our full stage production, so we just did a pared down 60-minute concert version with a little bit of dancing. Our two choreographers, who are our two lead dancers, did some dancing, but we just basically did some highlights of 60 minutes of music from the show.

RK: And in the full staging, you're intending that the audience would be part of the club?
CS:
It's immersive, it's not interactive. We don't directly interact with the audience. You know, they're not pulled up on stage. Those kinds of things make me a little uncomfortable.

We’re not putting anybody on the spot or anything, but they definitely kind of get wrapped up into it because [the actors] kind of move all around them and they're kind of part of the vibe and the aesthetic of the club that we created, which is called the Crimson. And they're kind of all the patrons in that club.

RK: Do you have any upcoming plans for doing a full stage production?
CS: That is our next hope. We're working towards figuring out where exactly that's going to be. We just finished our production of this show on Monday, which although is a pared down version, it still does take a bit of work to get that up and going. So now our next step will be to figure out where it's going to go next and we’re really excited about that.

I think we had a really warm reception to the show. Both shows were completely sold out. The response was very positive and we got lots of great feedback. So I think we're really looking forward to building it out fully again in another space and seeing where it goes next.

RK: What are what were some of your inspirations for writing it?
CS:
So the show is definitely very personal to all of us that wrote it. I have three co-writers, so the four of us really, we started writing the music during the height of the pandemic where there wasn't a whole lot going on and it was heavily influenced by a lot of things going on in our personal lives.

So, you know, some of the songs are written about very specific people in my life, very specific instances in my life. There's a song specifically that I actually wrote about a sort of big fight that I got into with my sister. So the show is definitely very personal and we pulled from a lot of different things and then we started writing songs with a loose concept in mind for the story line, and then we sort of built it out from there. So it was a little bit more organic how the plot line and the story all fit together because it was really driven by the songs that we had written and some of the emotion that we were feeling about these situations.

I guess you could say it's sort of like we kind of started writing a concept album and then built it out to a show.

RK: What's your favorite song from the show?
CS: My favorite at the moment is probably “Dead to Me.” It's basically a fight between two best friends that have been friends for eternity because they're vampires, and it's sort of just the breakdown of their relationship and there's betrayal and a lot of anger and hurt. But it's not of a romantic nature, it's just their friendship and how painful that can be.

RK: And that was based a bit on your real life?
CS: It was, yeah. She knows this now, so it's not a secret, but I got into a really big fight with my sister and we didn't speak for over a year, so the song was sparked from a conversation that we had that was just a huge blow out fight, and we didn't talk for a while after that.

And now we made up and we're fine. But that that song is still in some ways very painful to me because it just instantly puts me back in that place where that was so hurtful that we went through that challenge in our relationship.


RK: What made you decide that vampires were the mode through which you could express all of that?
CS: I kind of started this concept back in 2019, even before we actually started writing the show. We have this beautiful theater in Wisconsin, and my sister and I were working together, and we wanted to do a really cool, very sophisticated and sexy adult Halloween party, but we wanted it to be more thematic than just like, come in any costume. We didn’t want SpongeBob costumes at this party.

So we were like, let's do a really immersive vampire party. And it had original music—not from our show, completely different music. And we did a full runway show with all original costumes and fashion. So that was so cool and so well-received that we decided we want to build it out into an entire musical.

And you know, everybody loves vampires. They’re always popular. There's always some sort of show in the pop culture that is vampire related. You know, True Blood was it for a while. Obviously, there's been all the Twilight stuff. There's just constantly a vampire thing in the mix that's popular. Everybody likes them; they're sexy, they're cool. And everybody wants to live forever. And they are ultimately humans, or they were human. So for us, it’s just an amplification of human nature just in a slightly different medium.

Our vampires are very everyday vampires set in modern times. It's not campy with the vampire stuff. I would say it's more in line with True Blood or one of those shows where they're just kind of people that just happen to also be vampires.

RK: If people want to check out some of the musical, where would you suggest that they go?
CS: We've got a couple trailers and some good video content from the whole production. We have done the production in its entirety. I own a theater in Wisconsin, so that's what we've kind of used as our building ground for workshopping it and bringing the concept to life. So we did film the full production. We've got some good video clips of that on our website or on our Instagram page, which is @BloodLoveShow or BloodLove.com. And we also filmed the entire 60-minute concert on Monday, so that is available on the Joe's Pub’s YouTube page, so you can get a good sense of the music.



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